Evodia Motsepe, who holds an MBA, is the country’s first black woman poultry importer to benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Evodia is the majority shareholder and chairperson of Mega Food Supplies, which imports, stores and supplies food to the local South African market and the neighbouring countries. The company is one of the first black and woman-led companies to be allocated more than 1 000 quota through the AGOA dispensation.
In March this year President Obama issued a proclamation confirming South Africa’s eligibility to continue to participate in AGOA. The entry of US poultry into South Africa was required as a condition for avoiding South Africa’s suspensions under AGOA.
As a part of the AGOA agreement, fifty percent of the 65 000 ton annual quota is being set aside for historically disadvantaged individual (HDI) importers.
As part of the training and development plan organised by the United States to empower small poultry farmers under the AGOA programme, Evodia and her husband Sol are the only small business leaders to attend the second US-Africa Business Forum in New York in September at the behest of the US Commercial Services.
The Forum is co-hosted by the UN General Assembly, Bloomberg Philanthropies and US Department of Commerce. The day will be focused on increased trade and investment between the US and African nations and will feature more than 50 heads of states, global CEOs and senior government executives.
Evodia received confirmation to attend the Cochran Fellowship Programme during a visit by US Senator, Christopher Coons at her Mega Food Supplies factory in Heriotdale, Johannesburg.
She will be joined by five other importers and a government official from the Department of Trade and Industry.
Evodia strongly believes that, although still new in the food industry, Mega Food is ready and has set up proper systems and partnered with the experts in the product sourcing, importing, and logistics of the product from the United States.
“This is not a temporary measure. We are in this for a long-haul,” she said. “This provides us with the opportunity to show our worth in this industry that still thinks black people, especially women cannot make good entrepreneurs.”
Evodia has appealed to venture capitalists to help with financial support and for the big wholesalers, and retailers to open their markets to all the HDIs.
She said the major stumbling blocks between their success and failure were access to finance and the markets.
“This is a cash-hungry business wherein you need support through and through from venture capitalists. We therefore appeal to all stakeholders to join hands with us,” Evodia said. “Unless this happens, the quotas allocated to us will not be put to good use and we may close shop.”